Final Post: The World
Richest Man in the Village
Image from Archive
The mythological journey (as represented in the narratives of, say, the Odyssey, The Wizard of Oz, or indeed numerous fairy tales) is said to be a rite of passage; a bridge to empowerment. If myths are to be useful they need to be relevant to life, so, upon setting off on our overland vagabondage, I intended to put the theory to the test.
I can confirm that our journey ran through all the relevant stages: dissolution of the comfort zone; transfer of the internal center of gravity to the outside world; confrontation with, and immersion in, otherness; crossing physical thresholds and personal barriers; loneliness, crises, freedom and adventure; the encounter with the helpful stranger; finally, re-entering the previously familiar. Every stage brought its own hardship and joy. Though it is too early to be sure, I suspect that it has been a life-changing experience.
Being accompanied by you, valued reader, was a comfort at times and a pleasure always; I hope you have enjoyed your virtual journey too. Posting this, for now, final contribution is another chapter closing. I promise that, as soon as we set off on our next overland trip, you will hear from me via this blog.
Before I let this collection of images and words slide into the great filing cabinet in the sky, I would like to share this thought:
Contrary to what most of us seem to think, the positive values of humanity are, by and large, intact; certainly the world, as we have experienced it, is very much a better place than I expected.
In just over a year, we had pitifully few negative encounters: four times moved on, one theft, one arrest, one or two suspected overcharges; it was more than eclipsed by the wealth of kindness extended to us. The further east we moved, the more we found ourselves at the receiving end of spontaneous altruism: welcoming words, gifts of food, hospitality, practical help, signs of affection lavished on our son Ziggy, refusals to charge (yes, even after three times insisting), and, not to forget, endless offers of tea and conversation. All this from ordinary, random people going about their business.
After a time we learned that whatever might befall us – running out of resources, finding ourselves in unexpected danger – wherever on our route, there is a good chance that, upon seeking it, we would be given whatever assistance matched our need, by whomever we asked. It has given new meaning to the idea of travelling light.
We did our best to remain sensible and vigilant throughout, yet at the beginning I fretted a great deal about our safety and well-being.
I needn’t have worried. Now there’s a lesson.